Over its 55 years, the BBC TV quiz show University Challenge has produced some memorable student competitors as a result of their erudition, nerd-like characteristics or the way they flirt with question master Jeremy Paxman.
This year, viewers were intrigued by two young men: Eric Monkman and Bobby Seagull, captains of rival Cambridge colleges. The former, a 30-year-old Canadian, gurned as he barked answers with the ferocity of an army sergeant. The much calmer Seagull, a 33-year-old Londoner, was described by fans as the ‘cult hero of University Challenge’.
The pair were subsequently invited to collaborate for a Radio 4 documentary about polymaths — those past and present with wide knowledge and learning. They’ve also compiled a quiz book together.
University Challenge’s Eric Monkman (left) and Bobby Seagull (right) have put together a fiendishly difficult Christmas Quiz… Can you get them all right?
Here, specially for the Mail, they’ve devised 25 Christmas Puzzle questions . . .
1. According to a legend believed to come from Frigga, the Norse goddess of love, what is the plant sprig beneath which lucky people will receive a kiss?
2. Which Christmas essential that goes with a bang was invented by Tom Smith of London in 1847?
3. In 2011, the Military Wives had the Christmas Number One with their single Wherever You Are. Which bespectacled English choirmaster led them in song?
4. Which British actor stars as the Prime Minister alongside on-screen romantic interest Martine McCutcheon in the 2003 Christmas hit movie Love Actually?
5. If on Christmas Eve you leave out some gin, vermouth and an olive for Santa’s visit, which cocktail could his elves make for him?
6. The most-viewed EastEnders episode was on Christmas Day 1986 when ‘Dirty’ Den Watts handed divorce papers to his wife. What was her name?
7. Why might the sight of a hat, a scarf and a carrot in the snow have made a grown man cry in 1982?
8. Multiply the number of Calling Birds by the number of Drummers Drumming. Add the number of Turtle Doves, then divide it by the number of Lords a-Leaping. The total relates to which gift from the famous song?
Do you know what links singers Paul Young, Kylie Minogue, Chris Martin and One Direction?
9. In the Band Aid charity song Do They Know It’s Christmas, what links singers Paul Young, Kylie Minogue, Chris Martin and One Direction?
10. Beginning with the letter P, what is the cake traditionally eaten in Italy during Christmas?
11. Using symbols from the periodic table, which do you need to spell Santa’s surname?
12. Which four-legged furry deliverer of Christmas presents comes next in this sequence: D, D, P, V, C, C, D?
13. In Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, what was the surname of Scrooge’s deceased business partner? He shares it with the Jamaican musician who led The Wailers and the eponymous dog in a 2008 U.S. film starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston.
14. Although Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, which global fast-food do some 3.6 million Japanese families treat themselves to on December 25? This chain ran a campaign in 1974 called Kurisamasu ni wa Kentakkii (try saying it out loud . . .) to promote the treat.
15. James STEWART starred as George Bailey in which classic 1946 U.S. Christmas film directed by Frank Capra and based on the short story The Greatest Gift?
16. In which year did the Queen broadcast her first televised Christmas message?
Which retail company’s Christmas TV advert this year features The Beatles’ Golden Slumbers, as sung by Elbow?
17. What annual Christmas triumph links I Want To Hold Your Hand by The Beatles, Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, Don’t You Want Me by the Human League, Always On My Mind by the Pet Shop Boys and Can We Fix It? by Bob The Builder?
18. Which day during the Christmas calendar is also known as St Stephen’s Day?
19. USE your knowledge of 2013 movie Frozen for this question. Take the first letters of the answers to the following clues to spell out a popular Christmas food: a) In the song Let It Go, this never bothered the singer anyway, b) The Princess of Arendelle, c) The iceman with Sven the reindeer, d) The Snow Queen of Arendelle.
20. In the film Home Alone 2, Macaulay Culkin’s Kevin accidentally ends up on a flight to New York for Christmas. Which famous hotel did he stay at?
21. Santa takes part in a mince pie-eating contest. On Day One he eats one mince pie, on Day Two he eats two, on Day Three he eats four and on Day Four he eats eight. He’s doubling the number of mince pies eaten each time. So, on what day will Santa eat more than 100 pies?
22. Which British scientist initiated the first Royal Institution Christmas Lecture in 1825? His picture was on the reverse of the £20 note from 1991 to 2001.
23. Which retail company’s Christmas TV advert this year features The Beatles’ Golden Slumbers, as sung by Elbow?
24. If you buy a flat-screen TV in the post-Christmas sales for £800 and it’s tagged as 20 per cent off, what was the original price?
25. As Santa flies over Europe delivering presents, he loses his red-and-white outfit. He needs another one, but can only use the colours red and white. Name one country’s flag in central Europe he could use?
The Monkman And Seagull Quiz Book by Eric Monkman and Bobby Seagull is published by Eyewear at £12.99. To order a copy for £10.39 (offer valid until December 31, 2017), visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640. P&P free on orders over £15.
Answers: Did you get them right?
2. The Christmas cracker.
3. Gareth Malone.
4. Hugh Grant.
5. A martini cocktail.
6. Angie (played by Anita Dobson).
7. The 1982 film version of Raymond Briggs’s book The Snowman ended with the little boy finding the melted snowman in the morning, leaving behind only his hat, scarf and carrot in the snow!
8. Five Gold Rings (12 x 4 = 48. 48 + 2 = 50. 50 divided by 10 = 5).
9. They all sang the first line (‘It’s Christmas time . . .’) — Paul Young in the 1984 version, Kylie Minogue in 1989, Chris Martin in 2004 and One Direction in 2014.
11. Cl (Chlorine), Au (Gold), S (Sulphur).
12. B for Blitzen (the initials of the eight reindeer in the 1823 poem by Clement C. Moore, A Visit From St. Nicholas).
13. Marley (Jacob, Bob, and Marley & Me).
14. KFC (the Japanese slogan means ‘Kentucky for Christmas!’).
15. It’s A Wonderful Life.
16. 1957 (those from 1952 went out on radio).
17. They were UK Christmas Number One singles (in 1963, 1975, 1981, 1987 and 2000).
18. Boxing Day.
19. Cake (Cold, Anna, Kristoff, Elsa).
20. The Plaza Hotel.
21. On Day Eight he will eat 128 mince pies (pattern is 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128).
22. Michael Faraday.
23. John Lewis.
24. £1,000 (20 per cent off this is £200).
25. Switzerland (or Austria or Poland).